How Long Does SEO Take and How Does it Work?
May 12th 2021 | By Emma Grant
When you’re first starting out with search engine optimisation, it can be natural to want answers to questions such as how does SEO work, and how long does SEO take? The first question commands a fairly straightforward answer. However the second is a lot more difficult to answer, because it depends upon so many variables, not least the level of effort your competitors are putting in.
We can though give you something of an idea as to how long SEO might take to start working. So read on, as we unravel the inner workings of search engine optimisation.
How long does SEO take?
It’s important to look at SEO as a long term strategy rather than an instant fix. Although having said that, you should start seeing initial results within the first few months. Especially so if you are working with an SEO agency that has taken time to understand your business, and that uses proven tactics to get you where you want to be.
It is important to appreciate that SEO results grow over time, and that an SEO campaign has a cumulative effect, so you can expect to gain more as time goes on. Eventually you will see results reach a plateau, at which point you can switch to a maintenance plan.
The important thing to keep in mind is not to stop too soon. Be prepared to go the distance, and listen to the opinion of your SEO consultant as to what they feel is a realistic timescale. Setting a budget for 6 to 12 months of SEO work is a reasonable expectation. If you can’t commit to that, then it’s probably not worth even getting started in the first place. Just keep in your thoughts that with the right investment, SEO can deliver one of the best ROIs.
How to measure SEO campaign success?
Many people think that achieving top rankings means that their SEO is working. This is in some respects true, however just because you have the top positions in the search results, unless those positions are generating leads, they can be considered worthless.
This is precisely why it is vital to be careful who you choose to manage your SEO. You need an agency that is results driven, but that is focused on the right results. In other words, results that drive sales, rather than just show search engine positions.
What influences how long SEO takes?
No two websites will set out from even starting blocks, even if they’re in the same sector and targeting the same customers.
Competition, content and quality and volume of inbound links all combine to strongly influence how long SEO takes.
How competition influences the speed of SEO success
Say you have an electrician operating only in Surbiton. They’ll have a much lower level of competition than a property maintenance company serving Kingston Upon Thames, which would in turn face less competition than a construction firm covering all of Surrey.
The more competing websites you are up against, the more time you can expect it to take to get to the top of the search results. Also, as you gather pace get further up the search listings, the more effort it will take to overtake your competitors. Because the higher they are, the more they will be investing in time, effort and budget. Which means you’ll need to surpass them in these stakes if you’re going to get ahead of them and leave them behind.
How inbound links influence how SEO works
Another influencer of how long SEO takes to work is inbound links. Link building is one of the most important off-page SEO tactics, but there are underlying factors at play when it comes to the degree of influence it holds on the success of any SEO campaign.
Volume of links is important, but this is not the be all and end all. The quality of the links is a major player. In fact, a few, high quality links from relevant sites will prove more influential than hundreds of low quality links from sites that bear no relevance to your offering.
Because higher quality links tend to be more of a challenge to earn, they will take more time to achieve. But it is worth the effort, because these are links that last and go on delivering benefits for the long term.
How content influences how long SEO takes
Finally, content also plays a pivotal role in how long SEO takes. And when it comes to content, quality really does matter.
‘Thin content’ refers to material that doesn’t deliver any reader value. It doesn’t answer the questions that users are asking, or satisfy search intent. Thin content doesn’t necessarily mean short pieces. On the contrary, you can have a succinct, 100-word post that tells the reader all they need to know, and that will be considered quality.
On the other hand, you could have a drawn-out, 1,000-word piece that, despite being lengthy, doesn’t actually address what the user is actually looking to fathom out.
As long as the content is long enough to solve a problem and address audience needs, that’s good enough.
Many people believe that it’s not good practice to output a whole stack of new content in one hit, because Google might consider this unnatural. However, this is a myth that Google itself has discredited. So if you have lots of quality content ready to go live, don’t hold back. Because the faster you get it out there, the quicker your SEO will start working.
However, for the long game, content publishing consistency is key to SEO success. This is because Google can see that new content is being added regularly, which will encourage its spiders to crawl the site more often. It also compels visitors to return more frequently as they know there is something to see, which sends positive user experience signals to Google. All of this in turn will increase the rate at which your SEO works.
Looking for SEO that doesn’t take forever but DOES deliver the right results? Talk to Figment.
Here at Figment, we have been achieving exceptional SEO results since 2006. The type of results that drive leads and increase sales. Our strategies are based on individual business goals and fully tailored to the unique way your business works, and the specific audiences you aspire to target.
For SEO results without the wait, but with all you need to achieve your business growth goals, talk to Figment.